- Tip 1 - Start Planning Early
It's never too early to start planning a holiday party, especially when so many other distractions and competing tasks can suck up your time at this very busy time of year. One of the best (and easiest) ways you can avoid stress and plan a fabulous gathering is to begin your planning early. So if you haven't already started, how about right now? There's plenty to do, so it makes sense to start sooner rather than later. One of the first action items for you to handle will involve setting the date. This will give you an idea of how much time you really have to plan your event.
- Tip 2 - Know Your Budget (and Stick to It!)
This is definitely a sticky point for many hosts and hostesses. It's far too easy to go overboard on food, decorations, or other party enhancements, so it really pays to create a total spending cap and stick with it. A good rule of thumb for casual, intimate gatherings is to keep the total cost around $250 or under. You can lower that even further by creating a Christmas potluck gathering, or similar style event.
For more upscale or expanded gatherings, figure about $10-$12 per person without alcohol, or $12-$15 per person with alcohol. Many hosts and hostesses continue to feature highly successful events that are BYOB, so that may be an option for you.
- Tip 3 - Make a Plan (and Write It Down!)
With so many action items, you can't be expected to remember everything - fortunately, you won't have to if you make a plan and write it down. Whether you type into an Excel spreadsheet (for party planning, this is preferred over a word processing or text file, since a spreadsheet can be sorted for easy viewing), or simply keep a pencil and notebook handy, writing down a list of things to do will help keep your mind clear and focused while planning your party. Additionally, you will find that by writing down action steps, your mind is triggered to think of additional steps that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Hate making lists? Try a web search for "free party planning checklist" and grab what you need, already preformatted.
- Tip 4 - Solicit Help
The greatest contributor to party planning stress is the mistaken belief that you have to handle it all yourself. While there may certainly be specific action items that you prefer not to delegate, there are many necessary tasks that can be shared amongst family, friends, spouses, neighbors, etc. Many people are happy to contribute, especially if you can approach them with a clear idea of what you need assistance with.
Once you've created your plan, go through it and see what items you feel you must handle personally, and make a note or highlight these. Then look for items that can easily be delegated and begin to think of whose help you can solicit. Give people a reasonable amount of advance notice (but not so much that they would put it off until the last minute) and remember to follow up to ensure that the action items are getting accomplished.
- Tip 5 - Choose a Party Style and Theme
Now it's time to choose what kind of party you're planning. There are so many options to choose from, and you'll certainly want to take into consideration your budget, and the size of the venue (for example, if you're planning a gathering at home, and you have a small apartment, this will be a very different kind of gathering than one held at a rental hall).
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- casual vs. formal
- cocktails and appetizers vs. sit-down dinner vs. elegant buffet vs. potluck
- family-friendly with children welcome vs. adults-only
Once you know what kind of party you're planning, the next step is to create the guest list.
Remember -- party is planning is supposed to be fun, not stressful! Be sure to take time out for yourself during this busy season.
- Tip 6 - Select the Entertainment
Entertainment is a key element of any gathering, and it can be as simple as music on the CD player, to something as elaborate as scheduled activities. When selecting the entertainment options for your party, consider how many people will likely attend, and how well do they know each other. Also consider the size and layout of the space.
Here are some fun ideas:
- white elephant gift swap game
- gift exchange (random)
- have a rental projector set up to: entertain the kids with a children's Christmas movie, project movies onto a wall (for example, "A Christmas Story" or "It's a Wonderful Life") for background ambiance, create a DVD slide show with old family holiday photos or images of Christmas cards, etc.
- Tip 7 - Create and Send the Invitations
Now that you know what kind of party you're hosting, and who you're inviting (as well as how big the guest list is), it's time to create and send your invitations. You can use a free service like evite.com to send "green" invitations via email, and track responses and the total count of guests attending. Or you can create invitations on your computer to send out via snail mail or hand delivery (a nice touch for neighbors, family members, etc.)
- Tip 8 - Plan the Menu
Arguably one of the most fun and stressful parts of planning any party, it's positively essential to "nail" the menu. Not only will proper menu planning keep you on target with your budget, but it allows you to effectively plan your grocery shopping and to ensure that you have a good balance of sweet and savory foods, hot and cold hors d'oerves, and vegetarian vs. meat dishes.
Food is a key component of any social gathering, but there's no need to completely stress out over this element. If your budget allows, go for local catering via a service or a local restaurant (or even a semi-fast-food chain, like Subway or Chik-Fil-A). If cooking and food prep are not your forte', this would be a great place to solicit help from friends, neighbors or family.
- Tip 9 - Decorations
Depending on what kind of party you're hosting, you may not need much at all in the way of decorations. Also, if you're hosting the party at your home, consider how much decorating you typically do for the holidays - your "normal" holiday decor may be plenty enough for your holiday gathering. You'll likely want to add festive paper products or dishes for your gathering, as well as a beautiful centerpiece for the main table.
Now it's up to you to complete the remaining action items on your party planning to-do list. Remember to get help from the people who agreed to assist you - this will ensure that you don't get stressed with trying to do everything yourself.
Need an LCD projector rental for your upcoming Christmas party? Renting a projector is as easy as 1-2-3 at http://Projector123.com. Discover the fast, easy, affordable, hassle-free way to procure a professional grade rental projector today.